EU tech captures the movements of sport heroes

Five Basque Pelota players and four Gaelic Football, Hurling and Camogie athletes are in Oxford's Audiomotion studios this week. High-tech Vicon motion capture technologies watch their every move, as part of the EU-funded project RePlay. Exceptional HD footage produced will be available for cultural and sport organisations. You will be able to see in museums and/or on online platforms such as Europeana. The research team also develops a system based on low-cost sensors and an open source 3D software to be used in all interested clubs. It will be tested as from next year and will help youngsters learn traditional sports. It will also enable experienced players to improve their skills.

"I think it's going to be a big step in professional training techniques for both players and coaches," says Kepa Arroitajauregi, member of the Pelota and Associated Sports' World Council. "This is a very enriching experience for an athlete. Being part of a cutting-edge project is good for you and for future generations," adds Mikel Gonzalez, a Pelota handball player. They are both taking part in the capture in a studio specially equipped to replicate game conditions of the fronton (Basque court).

In Europe alone there are over 3000 traditional sports and games. Many of them are in decline or already lost to us, due in part to globalisation and the increased tendency towards individualised physical exercise.

"Basque and Gaelic Sports are two of the few Traditional Sports and Games that act as social and community pillars in the regions in which they are practiced, either at home or beyond Europe. The strength of the two traditions and their resistance to decline should serve to help other Traditional Sports. The application of innovative and low cost technologies, with support from the EU, will help to stop the decline," explains Dr. María Teresa Linaza, the project coordinator based at Vicomtech-IK4, Spain.

DIGITAL TOOLS TO OPEN UP CULTURE AND SPORT TO ALL

The eight project partners from Spain, Ireland, Greece, the UK and Switzerland are building a motion capture system that will be within reach of sport clubs. They also develop innovative techniques to produce state-of-the-art HD footage and to recover 3D motions from historical films.

"This scientific endeavour is unique: it brings together cultural heritage, sport and cutting-edge technologies. It has never been seen before. It is also a chance to compare and analyse the evolution in the changes of styles of play over time, the evolution of our sports. Above all it is great for the young to see how the measure up against their heroes and improve their skills", explains Prof. Noel O' Connor, the scientific coordinator of RePlay based at the Insight Centre for Data Analytics, Ireland.

European Commission Vice President @NeelieKroesEU, responsible for the Digital Agenda, says: "Traditional sports and games are part of Europe's diversity and cultural treasures. We need to preserve them as we need to protect works of art. New technologies offer great opportunities to capture and share."

Pictures of the capture in Oxford are available here.

BACKGROUND

- PARTNERS

RePlay brings together eight participants from five countries across Europe including Vicomtech-IK4 and the Basque Government in Spain, the Insight Centre for Data Analytics, the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) and the Dublin City University (DCU) in Ireland, Vicon and IN2 Search in the UK, the University of Geneva in Switzerland and the Centre for Research and Technology Hellas in Greece.

- €2 MILLION OF EU INVESTMENT

The EU invested €2 million in RePlay under the EU seventh framework programme for research and technological development#FP7 (2007-2013). The new EU research and innovation programme Horizon 2020 #H2020 promises even more technological innovations with €80 billion of funding available over the next 7 years (2014-2020).